Making Multiple Lifestyle Improvements Can Significantly Reduce Diabetes Risk (Video)

Philadelphia, September 6, 2011 - It is well-documented that lifestyle factors such as diet, weight, physical activity, smoking habits, and alcohol consumption affect a person's risk for diabetes. Studies have shown that individual lifestyle improvements, such as quitting smoking, can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. However, it is less clear how multiple changes affect diabetes risk.

Researchers surveyed more than 100,000 men and nearly 1000,000 women aged 50 to 71 without evidence of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes to determine how combinations of lifestyle risk factors relate to the 11-year risk for diabetes. Between 1995 and 1996, researchers surveyed participants and recorded demographic information and lifestyle factors, including dietary habits, body weight, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Ten years later, researchers surveyed participants again to find out who was diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. Ten percent of men and almost as many women developed diabetes during the study.

The researchers used original survey information to measure the association between lifestyle factors and onset of diabetes. Persons with the best lifestyle factors were about 80 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those with the worst lifestyle factors, and the risk for diabetes decreased for each additional good lifestyle factor.

According to Dr. Jared Reis, a researcher and epidemiologist with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and lead author of the study, changes in multiple lifestyle factors can make a big difference in risk, but even small changes can help.

"What we found was that with each additional life style factor in the healthy range there was about a 31 percent reduction of risk for diabetes among men and a 39 percent reduction of risk for diabetes among women," said Dr. Reis. "This is important because patients often find it easier to make one lifestyle change at a time, in order to lower their risk of developing diabetes."

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